We saved a hummingbird today.
By we, I mean my grandson Luke and I. Walking into the garage this morning, Luke spotted the ailing bird standing frozen upon the garage floor. Sadly, it’s a sight we have seen before. Hummingbirds, for some reason, are attracted to our garage, and once inside, they cannot find their way out despite both garage doors being open — and their hosts fervently trying to shoo them out. Eventually, they tire, fall to the floor, and, when found, require another bird burial in our backyard.
But today was different.
Upon close inspection, this hummingbird was still alive…barely. Though we expected our efforts were likely futile, I gently picked up the dazed bird for a closer inspection. Surprisingly, she offered no resistance. Her heart was visibly beating, but she remained in a stunned comatose-like state. Unsure of what emergency measures to take, my wife mixed up some sugar water to mimic a hummingbird’s source of energy, and we attempted to get the bird to taste and drink this life-giving nectar.
Initial efforts proved in vain, but we remained patient and still. We noticed, her fork-like, thread-thin tongue began to stick out from its oversized beak, slowly sampling the small cup of sweet homemade brew. I set the bird inside a small box, allowing it to stand and, within what seemed like minutes, she spread her wings as if to see if they still functioned. A few more sips from the cup, and to our delight, Luke and I watched as the reinvigorated bird took to the air and flew away.
A look of wonder and awe filled Luke’s eyes. I will not confirm or deny that the same occurred within my own as we cheered her onward and upward flight.
Hummingbirds are our favorite birds to watch. Early mornings and early evenings will find different species of birds enjoying the McElhannon Bird Banquet offered by the bird-feeders dotting our garden’s backyard avian sanctuary. For us, no bird is more exquisitely beautiful, entertaining, or exciting to watch than the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Hummingbirds are one of the most fascinating of God’s creatures. They are the smallest species of birds, oftentimes weighing less than a nickel. Their eggs are the size of peas. Unique to the Western Hemisphere, these migratory birds can fly up to 30 miles per hour and dive as fast as 60. They are the only birds who can fly backwards as well as forwards. Their hovering skills — their wings can flap up to 53 beats per second — inspired the idea of helicopters. Their unique vision allows them to see colors unknown to the human eye.
Watching these birds zoom through the air, stopping on a dime, feasting on flowers and feeding stations, and then flitting away in an instant is mesmerizing. Master Luke thinks male hummingbirds resemble NASCAR drivers vying for the lead to the nearest food source.
We have had the privilege of seeing the birds nesting and hatching new offspring. Watching them return to feed their hatchlings reminds us of how much the young depend upon their parents to provide nourishment to survive. With mouths wide open to receive their needed sustenance, they will soon grow into the likeness of their providers.
Is the same not true for us?
Watching the life cycle of God’s creation gives new insight into the words of Scripture. Psalm 81:10 harkens us to “Open your mouth wide and fill it.” Fill it? Fill it with what? Matthew 5:6 provides the answer, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
Helping this wounded bird renew its strength put smiles on our faces. This wondrous God-moment encouraged our spirits and gave us an opportunity to serve.
Oh, how I pray that young Luke and all my grandchildren will hunger and thirst for that which truly satisfies their soul. And that by pursuing righteousness, they too may grow up into the likeness of our Great Provider.
Note: Thanks to Bryan Hanson at unsplash.com for his photo